The Healthcare Workers’ Foundation (HWF), previously known as HEROES, has launched an emergency appeal to address what it sees as a potentially catastrophic period for the NHS and healthcare workers in the UK over the next two-years.
The emergency appeal being launched today, coincides with the relaunch of the charity previously known as HEROES, under its new name, The Healthcare Workers’ Foundation (HWF). The organisation was originally launched by NHS workers for NHS workers at the onset of the first wave of COVID-19 and has since raised more than £1 million, supplying over 500,000 frontline NHS workers with sustainable visors, reusable respiratory masks, hand sanitiser, therapy services, financial grants, hot meals, and much more. The charity is committed to safeguarding the welfare and wellbeing of those employed by the NHS by driving activity that protects both their physical and mental health.
While we see a notable increase in cases of COVID-19 and the presence of a second wave, the major underlying crisis goes far deeper and with a potentially devastating longer-term impact. The huge backlog in the system makes the outlook for our health service far bleaker than anyone currently realises.
Some hospitals now have two-year waiting lists in place for some treatments, with the number of those waiting over a year for treatment currently at 110,000 compared to only 1,613 pre-pandemic.
Dr Dominic Pimenta, Chairman of The Healthcare Workers’ Foundation, said:
“The NHS is already, and always has been, under huge pressure, especially given tighter budgets in recent years. But what we have today is a perfect storm coming toward us.
“With so many treatments cancelled or put on hold over the course of this year, the unfortunate consequence of COVID-19 is a massive backlog in the system – a backlog that will have to be cleared by healthcare workers who are already under incredible strain and facing a crisis like never before, which is only likely to deepen over winter with the second wave.
“The number of staff leaving the NHS has been a developing problem for years, but with these added strains and little sign of light at the end of the tunnel, huge swathes of doctors, nurses, porters, cleaners, and many others are considering leaving the health service altogether. This deeper crisis will make dealing with both COVID and the increased backlog of other treatments even more difficult than it is already.”
Some of the key statistics revealed in the General Medical Council’s (CMG) National Training survey 2020 (which reported on sentiment amongst NHS professionals following the onset of the current pandemic) uncovered:
- Half (50%) of trainee doctors felt concerned for their own physical safety or that of their colleagues.
- All those surveyed reported feeling some degree of burnout from work.
- More than one in five reportedly feeling severely burnt out.
Additionally, recent evidence highlighted in a survey conducted by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) (and presented to the Public Accounts Committee in August 2020), uncovered that 35% of nurses are considering leaving in the next year (up 7 percentage points from 2019), exposing the system and end-users of the NHS to significant ramifications in the medium and long term.
To compound the issues at hand, the 2019 NHS Staff Survey, which was published a month before the UK’s lockdown, reported the highest levels of work-related stress (more than 40%) and also uncovered that this proportion had been steadily increasing since 2016.
While the data exposes a staggering number of issues impacting the nursing community and the NHS more broadly, it also highlights the severity of the crisis and the urgency required to address it.
The wellbeing and happiness of NHS staff are directly linked to the treatment and outcomes we all receive when we are unwell: where healthcare workers get help managing stress and take care of themselves, we see significantly improved care received by patients.
Dr Pimenta added: “Ultimately, this is about everyone living in the UK today and ensuring we have a healthcare system that will be there for us when we need it – for when you as an individual are unwell. For that to happen, we need those working in the healthcare system to feel supported to stay in their jobs, and we can all play a vital part in making that happen.”
Charity launches emergency appeal to raise funds for healthcare workers to ensure they are supported in their jobs as we enter crunch period.
The Healthcare Workers’ Foundation is calling on everyone, the public, to donate what they can so that we can help healthcare workers help us by providing access to a range of free services out of hours, including professional counselling, childcare support and financial assistance.
Dr Pimenta said: “We are calling on people to give what they can so we can all do our parts to give healthcare workers the support they need to stay in their jobs; help to face the increasing stress on the system head-on and get the NHS back on its feet. While the Government has a major role to play, we can’t wait any longer – we have to do what we can to help stave off a far deeper crisis than we see with COVID-19.”
The charity is also strongly urging people to help healthcare workers reduce the long-term problem that is unfolding by coming to seek treatment promptly when they feel unwell, where delays can mean worse outcomes for patients. But when they are well, taking all precautions and doing everything they can to keep healthy.